What role does the staging of your books in front of an audience play for you?
Writers spend most of their time alone at their desk, in a world of their own inventing. It’s a solitary occupation, it isn’t like being a musician or playing in a band, where live performance happens much more frequently. So after spending a year or two working on a novel, being able to read and answer questions in front of an audience is a welcome and refreshing change.
How important is the interaction with your audience?
It’s very important, because it’s an opportunity to gauge reaction to your work first-hand. These are people who have bought and, hopefully, enjoyed your books, so it’s a pleasure being able to meet them.
Do you have your readers in mind, while writing a book?
Obviously, you have to be aware that you’re writing for other people, not just for yourself. And I have the readers’ reaction in mind when I’m writing a scene or developing a character, because I’m usually trying to achieve a certain effect, or elicit a particular response. So you have to ask yourself ‘Would I find that scary or tense if I was reading it? Would I have seen what was coming?’ But I think it would be a mistake to try second-guess what sort of book readers want, and then try to write it. I’m not sure how well that would work.
Is there something like a “perfect reader” for your books?
Anyone who reads and enjoys them is fine by me.
How can books cause a stir in a multimedia world?
I’m not really sure they have to. People read books because the written word connects directly with the imagination in a way that film or TV never can. Trying to make them more interactive or whatever might put a gloss on that, but it won’t ultimately alter the reading experience or why people enjoy it.
How significant will the printed book be in 10 years?
I’m sure technology will have an increasing impact, but I can’t see printed books disappearing any time soon. I know there’s an obvious comparison between print and ebooks and what happened to vinyl records when CDs came along, or is happening to CDs now more people are downloading music. For me there are crucial differences, though. Reading a book is a much more tactile experience than listening to music, and there’s something pleasurable about picking up a book and opening it, flicking through its pages. Ebooks might win in terms of convenience, and there’s no doubt that more people will start to use them for that reason alone, but they can’t recreate that. And let’s face it, they don’t look nearly so good on bookshelves.